Back in 2003, 'Kal Ho Naa Ho' won six Filmfare Awards but the brain behind the movie, Nikhil Advani, missed out on the award for best director. The 41-year-old started his career as an assistant director with Sudhir Mishra’s 'Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin' (1996), and has to his credit the star-studded 'Salaam-e-Ishq: A Tribute To Love', 'Chandni Chowk To China' and 'Patiala House'. Now Advani enters a new genre with Delhi Safari. He tells us more:
Why should we watch the animated movie, 'Delhi Safari'?
I always wanted to make a film that my daughter could watch with her friends. Making a ‘Bollywood animation’ film in the truest sense of masala Bollywood and being able to somewhere communicate a message has been both rewarding and fulfilling.
How was making this movie a challenge?
Animation is in the infancy stage in India. The backbone of this film are the animators at Krayon Pictures. We have worked five years on this film to bring the best in terms of animation. We’ve reworked scenes, had a vigorous editing routine and have ultimately achieved our goal.
How did you select your voice artistes?
The first animation character that attracted me was the genie in Aladdin. I always wondered why they would cast Robin Williams, such a fine actor, and use him as just voice. When I started the process of scripting, the thought of an actor essaying the characters fell into place. Govinda has added so much to the character of Bajrangi, the rogue. I always visualised the bear, Bagga, to be this Punjabi, loud character, but Boman created a whole new character out of him. Akshaye Khanna as the spoilt ‘townie’ parrot, Alex, added the extra edge to the character. Similarly, using Urmila’s voice for the caring mother, Suniel Shetty as the father, Prem Chopra as the menacing hyena, has helped create a fantastic milieu of characters. That’s when I understood Robin Williams’ role in Aladdin.
Why does the Indian audience prefer Hollywood animated movies to Indian offerings?
I honestly do not believe that. I have a six-year-old who loves Bal Hanuman and the havoc he creates. The entire bachha party forces us to take them over the weekend for any animation film, be it Hanuman, Ganesha, Krishna or Finding Nemo. The West has a larger audience and a certain fan following to their animated series, but with the right marketing strategies and good films we can strive to achieve that too.
'Delhi Safari' was released recently.